Where’s the social support? (Findings, part VI)

I’m not even making excuses anymore. There’s a lot of people’s stories to share.

Douglas likes to tell me, “Not many people can have two ABI and live to talk about it.” He wants an adequate outlet for talking about his experiences as well as people who want him to share as much as he wants to share.

He’s still looking for those people and that social support.

Peggy echoes Douglas’s sentiments.  As she details the restructuring of her life since the TBI, she mentions her loneliness in losing friends who were close to her before the injury.  She pauses a moment to consider the effect her brain injury had on her once-large group of friends, and her eyes betray her wistfulness over the injury to her social life.

Peggy used to be very active in her community and had lots of friends, but “that all disappeared after [her] injury.”

As she continues to speak, her narrative is filled with part hope and part longing:

“Todd is my best friend now.  That‟s what I call him – Todd. He’s imaginary, but I conjure him up whenever I need his support. I think of him as an avatar for my life or something. He tells me it’s okay that I’m alone and that my life is still worth living. He’s a gay architect, in my mind. He’s my only friend now, so I trust his judgment on most things. I have no one else.”

Although Peggy laughs aloud and calls the idea of an imaginary friend at her age “silly,” I see the comfort that having one in her life gives her. In place of an adequate acquiantance from SBIF to provide her with the social support she needs, Peggy turns to Todd, a creation all her own.

I laugh along with Peggy as she tells me animated stories of Todd‟s support, but inside, I wish that someday she could have the support she needs in nonimaginary form.


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